California Motor Vehicle Code 21718
When Drivers Can Stop on the Freeway
It is illegal and dangerous to stop or park a vehicle on the freeway, but occasionally it has to be done. There are a few instances where stopping, parking, or leaving a vehicle on a fully accessible freeway is a reasonable decision to make.
Parking a vehicle on the freeway to avoid injury or damage to persons or property is the first example. As a driver, acting to prevent dangerous situations that will harm other people or peoples' property is hugely important. Everyone must strive for the safest possible driving situation.
If a driver is required by law, he must pull over. This can occur in obedience with a peace officer or official traffic control device.
Those who are employed by public agencies to maintain the freeway or work in construction of the freeway are allowed to park on freeway space while engaged in the performance of these official duties.
If a driver's vehicle becomes severely disabled on the road, he may need to stop. This is acceptable so long as another vehicle has been summoned to assist the disabled vehicle. Leaving a disabled vehicle on the freeway for a long period of time is illegal, and towing of said vehicle must be prompt to avoid the risk of collision created by leaving a stationary object in a high speed roadway.
On the freeway, if any space is provided for stopping, standing, or parking, then it is permissible. This is applicable in the case of buses which are allowed to stop when sidewalks and shoulders with sufficient width are located on the side of the roadway. However, there has to be enough space for the bus to pullover without interfering with the normal movement of traffic.
If an emergency has occurred on the freeway, a driver may pullover and stop to make the necessary report to a peace officer by emergency telephone or other device. This will help notify officers to aid the scene if those involved in the accident are unable to call for help themselves.
Occasionally other drivers will have to stop on the freeway as an impeding object or vehicle is towed. The tow truck must operate under an agreement with the Department of the California Highway Patrol, and all other vehicle will wait until the road is clear and safe to proceed. Failing to stop at times like this is considered a violation of safe operation of a motor vehicle upon the highway.
Common sense is the best thing to employ when unforeseen circumstances occur while driving on the freeway. Drivers should consider the safest way to deal with situations that make require stopping on a freeway.